This documentary written and produced by Andrew Rossi is like all documentaries, slanted. I read the New York Times and being one of those guileless souls who would like to believe all that I read, but wisely inflicted with the obligation of deciphering, masticating, searching for the reasonable, believable, finding the middle road between fact and fiction.
The main premise of “Page One’ is the lifespan of the sculptural, touchable, worshiped daily New York Times and can the world survive without it. From those interviewed it is worthy of the next few millenniums, long after the discovery of stain-free print.
The major foundation of a documentary is the acquisition of knowledge and there was minimal inspirational information, just rehashing of “old news”: Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, Woodward/Bernstein, Watergate, vicissitudes, closing of newspapers after the popping of the financial balloon in 2008, WikiLeaks/ Julian Assange; NYT reporters, Judith Miller, Jayson Blair, the tarnished duo, turned to brass the golden reputation harbored by the paper for decades. If you live in the free world, this is news you’ve been exposed to or have learned through the historical process.
David Carr is the “star” of the film, a crusty reporter with a checkered past, including drug abuse, jail-time, raising two children on his own; he is caustic, biting, goes for the jugular, fearless, insightful, unlikable. His target in the film is the “Chicago Tribune” its owner, manager and its lugubrious, inscrutable issues and fate.
“Page One” obvious; the first page sells the papers; that was well depicted in meetings with the editor but “Inside the New York Times” was oblique, sterile, staged, leaving one with a feeling of inertia, a bystander, an outsider. Rent “The Front Page” 1931, based on the 1928 play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur starring Adolphe Menjou and Pat O’Brien or the 1974 version with Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau; here you witness the gutsy, frenetic, cacophony of a newsroom in the throws of making a deadline.
The major enigma, conundrum is the world of paper versus digitalization; today, instant gratification is at the celestial level; screens, featuring numerous venues, pounding the senses; gone are the filters, blank screens, soundlessness, where the mind can marinate, process without constant feedback; thoughts, seeds, growing from the embryonic stages into mature conclusions. Connectedness is ubiquitous ; cell phones, I pads, resting with utensils on the table; couples, eyes embracing, while talking to unseen others; sleep invaded, disrupted by the addictive need to be reachable 24/7. Yes, the world is flat and on the same time zone.
Some will always crave the marriage of hand and paper; the book you fall asleep with, still there at dawn. Those few will fade away and be remembered remotely, solely by the Kindled and the Digitals.
It is off to the adventures and wilds of Alaska; do not have the wardrobe but will rely on the kindness of the weather and the borrowed garb of friends.